2012 RENAULT KOLEOS REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price: $40,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.6l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 9.2l/100km
Renault offers a surprising package with the versatile Koleos SUV. In a bustling SUV market, the Koleos isn’t the strongest seller, but it comes with some useful innovative touches not found in many of its competitors.
With rear-seat tray tables, flat folding rear-seats, a flip-forward passenger’s seat, lidded door-bins and a split tailgate, the Koleos is ready for action for everyone from young families to active empty nesters.
The Koleos also offers a mechanical package shared with Nissan’s rugged and respected X-Trail. TMR spent a week with the mid-range Dynamique specification to see how well it utilised its charm.
Quality: Renault has gone for a ‘different’ look to the Koleos interior, which means huge expanses of upper-dash surface. Thankfully though, the materials have an appealing look and feel with plenty of soft-textured plastics.
It’s also well put-together; we couldn’t fault the assembly or workmanship of the test car. There were no untoward noises and all panels gaps and closures were even.
Some interior parts however seemed prone to marking, so the test of time with a young family may not be so kind to the Koleos.
Comfort: The commanding view from inside the Koleos is helped by a very low dash and steering wheel. It opens up fantastic forward-vision for the driver and front seat passenger.
The upright seats are large and wide, not heavily bolstered and a little broader up top than they are in the seat base, but still comfortable
As a not-very-tall, short-legged, long-armed driver I might be in the minority, but finding that ‘at home’ position behind the wheel of the Koleos was slightly elusive.
Rear seat passengers benefit from a spacious rear bench, there’s potential to fit three across the rear seat, but the firm and uninviting middle position isn’t great for long trips. There’s room in every dimension though and a reclinable backrest for increased utility.
Equipment: All Koleos models come with satellite navigation, foglights, chilled glovebox, ‘smart card’ remote central locking, leather steering wheel, multi-function audio stalk on the steering column, cruise control with speed limiter, Bluetooth connectivity and alloy wheels.
Dynamique trim also adds leather seat-trim with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, auto lights and wipers, alarm, rear seat folding-armrest, carbon fibre-look trim inserts, dual-zone climate control with outboard rear-vents, automatic parking brake and six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with USB and Aux inputs.
Storage: With rear seats in place there’s 450 litres of cargo volume growing to 1380 litres with the seatbacks folded. Rear seats can be flipped out of the way from the seatback or from the boot and the seat cushions flip up to allow a flat floor.
Boot access is through a handy split tailgate, which is strong enough to be used as an impromptu spectator seat, and despite a high floor boot space in generous.
Inside there’s a cavernous glovebox and reasonably sized centre console that includes a handy lift-out liner. There’s moderately-sized door pockets, dual front cup-holders, lidded front door-pockets and under-floor storage in the rear seat.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Diesel Koleos models run a 2.0 litre direct injection turbo diesel engine that is shared with Nissan’s X-trail. Outputs measure 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque from 2000rpm.
Before the peak torque comes into play, the Koleos feels a little underdone and stepping off at the traffic lights sees a moment’s hesitation before things start rolling.
Performance is lacking a little until 2000rpm - then the engine hits its stride and feels much more comfortable.
The six-speed automatic is well-matched to the diesel and slurs smoothly through the changes. But it can be reluctant to change its mind; a prod of the accelerator doesn’t always generate the desired kickdown response.
There’s also that small delay in engine response which has the Koleos feeling a little lazy around town. For highway use though, the compact Renault’s SUV is a more complete package.
Cruising speeds keep the engine ticking in its peak torque zone so undulating roads pose little threat to the Koleos. For overtaking however you’ll need a stretch of road to accommodate the dozy kickdown response.
A plus is the 4X4 drivetrain of the X-Trail down below which is a handy performer in lighter off-road excursions. It means that this Koleos can get more than a little way off the beaten track if a family adventure is in the offing.
Refinement: Both wind and tyre noise are minimal from inside the Koleos. We picked up a bit of wind-flutter in blustery conditions, but it is unobtrusive otherwise.
The engine isn’t quite so calm though. Though there is little vibration (just a bare hint at idle), on the road the diesel orchestra can be heard even at lower engine speeds. Put it under load and it gets a little more intrusive.
Suspension: While the Koleos comes from a French company which usually means good things for suspension tune, this Renault is Korean-sourced and that hasn’t traditionally been the home of great damper tuning.
Thankfully the Koleos offers a soft, comfortable ride capable of blotting out the rough and tumble of Australian B-roads. It’s no dynamic champion but is safe and predictable.
Suspension hardware comprises segment-typical MacPherson front struts and independent multi-link rear.
Braking: The four-wheel ventilated disc brakes of the Koleos are well set up, not too grabby at low speeds but providing strong stopping power under hard braking.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load-limiting pretensioning seatbelts with height adjust, front active-head-restraints, load-limiting rear seatbelts, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, electronic stability control tuned for off-road conditions, hill-descent control, reverse parking sensors and selectable all-wheel-drive.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Renault offers $199 capped price servicing plans for three years or 45,000km (30,000km on Koleos petrol models) on vehicles purchased before 30th September 2012.
For detailed servicing costs outside of this special offer consult your dealer at time of purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Peugeot 4007 ST HDi ($37,490) - Peugeot offers the slightly roomier 4007, however its specification falls short of the Koleos, although with a lower entry price.
TMR testing has shown the 4007 to be a touch thirsty due to the dual-clutch transmission’s tendency to hold gears too long. There is a seven-seat option if required and big boot. (see 4007 reviews)
Kia Sportage Platinum ($39,720) - Kia packs plenty of features into its Sportage Platinum and offers a 2.0 turbo diesel that produces some serious grunt. It also sports an Australian-tuned suspension which makes the Sportage feel less ‘floaty’ than the Koleos.
Despite the added grunt, the Sportage betters the Koleos for fuel consumption. Inside the interior isn’t as innovative but is a little more up-to-the-minute, as is the funky exterior. (see Sportage reviews)
SsangYong Korando SPR ($36,811 ) - Maybe not the first competitor to spring to mind, but the Ssangyong Korando is the best offering yet from the Korean manufacturer. The value pricing is attention-grabbing, but there are still questions over resale.
In terms of build quality, comfort and driveability, the Korando isn’t as far behind established players as you might think. (see Korando reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It's hard to think of a product from Renault over the past few years that has offered quite this level of well-planned practicality.
Coupled with room for a growing family, the Koleos really sells itself on its versatility.
Put it on the road however and the lack of drivetrain polish stands out against a range of newer, more capable diesel competitors. Especially at that $40k-plus price.
This latest Koleos Dynamique however has more appeal than we expected, and is worth comparing against the better performers in the Compact SUV class-of-2012.
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